Pharmaceutical sector needs $40m cash injection

Brighton Gumbo Business Reporter
THE pharmaceutical industry in Zimbabwe needs about $40 million for re-tooling, which will allow production of a new range of competitive products.

Zimbabwe Investment Authority (ZIA) chairman and businessman, Nigel Chanakira told Business Chronicle on the sidelines of the annual pharmaceutical indaba held in Bulawayo on Friday, that Zimbabwe has a huge potential to grow its economy through revival of the pharmaceutical industry.

“As things stand there are eight manufacturers who’re producing for local consumption and they vary in terms of strength,” said Chanakira.

“At the moment a minimum of $40 million is required just for re-equipping before we launch new products.”

The former Kingdom Financial Holdings owner, who also chairs the Pharmaceutical Working Group, said Bulawayo and Harare were best placed to foster a robust turnaround of the sector.

“Clearly it’s proven that we’ve manufacturing capacity in Harare and Bulawayo that can easily be used to get production to volumes which are economic for us to start producing drugs, reducing our import bill and ultimately exporting into the region,” he said.

Chanakira said Zimbabwe spends over $400 million to import basic drugs annually.

“There are over $400 million worth of basic drug imports that are coming into the country every year. Of those basic drugs probably about 75 percent of them could easily be manufactured here as well as for the region,” said Chanakira.

The sector used to be one of the most vibrant arms of the economy until its downturn at the height of hyperinflation a few years ago.

It was also crippled by illegal sanctions, lack of liquidity and increasing competition from imports.

Chanakira also said foreign drug donations had a negative effect on the viability of the manufacturing sector.

He, however, said the investment climate was going to improve through increased partnerships for weaker players and bringing on board new players.

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